Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Detroit Native, InsideOut Alum, Wins Pulitzer For Drama, “A Strange Loop”

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Michael R. Jackson says it took moving away for him to fully appreciate his Detroit roots.

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A Detroit native was recently honored with a prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

I’m a Detroit boy for sure. I guess I’m a New Yorker now, but the city is inside me and that upbringing really is inside me.” — Michael R. Jackson, playwright

Last week, playwright Michael R Jackson was awarded a Pulitzer for Best Drama for his play “A Strange Loop,” which chronicles the experience of a young, black queer writer trying to write a musical.

Listen: Detroit native, Michael R. Jackson’s journey to winning the Pulitzer Prize. 


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Michael R Jackson says he was on the phone with a friend when he heard that he’d won the Pulitzer Prize.

InsideOut Literary Arts “set me up for a lot of success going forward.” — Michael R. Jackson, playwright

It was a pretty joyful day and I was grateful for it,” says Jackson. The play for which he won the Pulitzer Prize started, according to Jackson, as a thinly veiled personal monologue that he began writing while in undergrad. His work on the story only became more fully formed throughout his time at graduate school.

Looking back at his childhood in Detroit and time at Cass Tech, Jackson says the InsideOut Literary Arts program was a key factor in developing his voice as a writer.

That sort of set me up for a lot of success going forward. I’m a Detroit boy for sure. I guess I’m a New Yorker now, but the city is inside me and that upbringing really is inside me,” says Jackson.

Peter Markus, senior writer at InsideOut Literary Arts and someone Jackson considers an influential mentor says he’s “happy to celebrate Michael’s achievement.”

Jackson says he remembers the beautiful words used by Markus in his prose and poetry, and adds that he considers those experiences formative to his creative career. 

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